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  • Writer's pictureBrandon 'b.Side' Alvillar

My Beef With Worship Music - Problems With Music In The Modern Church

Updated: Aug 28

I don’t hate Worship music. Well, not all of it at least. There is some…

man smashing guitar on amps

To be truthful though, I shouldn’t “hate” any Christian music. I know – BAD PASTOR! I’m a terrible example. You can rip me and criticize me if you want. At least hear me out first though. My beef with Worship Music is valid, I promise. There are problems with worship music in church, which cause divisions and useless debates and arguments. It needs to stop.

This is a sensitive subject for me, because I come from a music background. I was a club and rave DJ that played all over, for years. I worked in professional recording studios. I owned my own music production company for years. Music is kind of a thing with me. Truth be told though, music is kind of a thing for a lot of us. The problem is, not all of us are willing to admit how important music really is to us. Whole cultures are based on certain music genres…

Now, I’m not talking about those, “Music is my life” folks. That stuff is idolatrous, and it is a TOTALLY different issue. The issue I’m talking about here is a human issue. The LORD programed us with emotions, and music is a common way for those emotions to be stimulated, either for the better or the worse. As believers, we’re not supposed to be governed by emotions. We’re supposed to be governed by the Holy Spirit. Still, music has its place. That’s what makes it so hard when it comes to being a Christian. The Bible is loaded with music. Music is important to the LORD too. The issue is, it seems that the modern church has taken up the responsibility of determining what sort of music we should all listen to – and I’m not just talking about lyrical content. I’m sure the intentions are good, but I’m not sure “the church” really understands the variety of musical tastes of the people who make up “the church.”

The issue is, music is a part of life. It’s an expression of creativity, and whether we’re creative people or not, we all have some sort of opinion about music. Maybe more importantly, most of us have opinions about “church music.” This becomes a sensitive issue, because we don’t call “church music,” by that name. We often call it “worship music.” That means it’s sacred. That means it’s holy. That means it’s “above reproach.” Right?

As Christians, we should ALL be into worshiping the LORD. That doesn’t mean that we all have to accept and value “worship” in a specific music genre, to the same degree. Yet, because we generally refer to Christian music as “worship music,” it’s like we all have to guzzle this stuff in, like it’s the only medicine that’s good for our souls. Here’s the truth: It’s not! As a Bible teacher and a pastor, I can tell you with confidence, that you will NOT be judged based on the contents of your Spotify playlist. I'm here to tell you though, there are plenty of people who will criticize someone's faith and treat them like non-believers, because they don't agree with their music preferences. That's one of the problems with music in the church. That's my beef with Worship Music.

Here's my point in all this. Personally, I think that the way “worship” music is written, is a bit skewed from the tone of scripture. That’s just my opinion. When I think of people praising the LORD in scripture, it seems like they were all excited, loud, and were “partying” to a certain degree (not in a sinful way, so don’t get crazy here). Yet, in church, it’s VERY different. In church, “worship” is often tempered by volume, tempo, or whether or not it has syncopation. If we want something with some energy and juice behind it, we can’t call it “worship” music anymore, especially within certain Christian denominations. That’s the Gospel music genre. Anyone else confused by this?

I like electronic music. I like music made with samplers, beat machines, synthesizers, and software. I DO NOT like EDM music, but I DO like old school hip hop, R&B, soul, funk, house music, jungle, drum & bass, and even disco every now and then is kind of cool. Who doesn’t like the Bee Gees?

Do you hear a lot of those influences in music that’s deemed “acceptable” by the modern church? I hear cheap imitations from time to time. The reality is though, there are some talented folks out there that make great music, that isn’t called “Christian.” If someone’s salvation is based SOLELY on faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Messiah, what difference does it make if I listen to music that is described by a particular genre, or not (assuming its contents are directly sinful)?

Now don’t get me wrong. There IS some music that is just plain filth, that promotes violence, immorality of all kinds, and is outright sinful in every way. That’s not what I’m talking about here. That's not my beef. But think of this. Classical music isn’t Christian. Most of it doesn’t even have words. The same is true of Jazz music. The same is true of Techno. So then, if it’s not Christian, and there aren’t words, how is it sinful, or unacceptable for church? Hmm…

DJ equipment for electronic music

I’m not here to complain and rant. I’m just trying to bring something to light, that I’m sure MANY of you have wondered about. Here's a simple question I've heard countless times, that illustrates the problems with music in church:

Can you listen to “secular” music and still grow as a Christian?

That's my beef with Worship Music. Why does that question exist? I listen to music written and made by non-Christians. I also believe Jesus is the Son of God and Messiah, who died and rose from the dead, and will come again soon to redeem His people. He has called me to be a Bible teacher, and has gifted me by His Spirit to do so for His glory. Praise the LORD! While there has been some music that has hindered that progress and my focus, the LORD has convicted me on a case-by-case basis. In the end, there is A LOT of music made by non-Christians, that has NOT had a bad effect on my walk. On the other hand, the attempt of the modern church to convince me that I NEED to accept the given-genres of music they provide as “worship music,” is more of a stumbling block, than the instrumental hip hop tracks I might bump while putting together Bible studies. Anyone relate here?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to convince everyone to boycott music that’s called “Worship music” like it’s all whack. That’s not true. I’m just trying to show that, just because it’s NOT called “Christian music” or “Worship music” doesn’t mean it’s bad. It also means that, just because some music might be called “Christian/Worship music” doesn’t mean it’s good…

So, I was once told that complaining without offering a solution, is just whining. I don’t want to be whining, so here are some solutions to this issue:

  • Know and understand that there are A LOT of people making ALL KINDS of music, and it’s not all bad – Go find what you like, and filter it through the convictions of the Spirit on a case-by-case basis

  • Do the leg work to find good music, because it does take work – We spend time looking at all kinds of things online and on social media, make your time productive

  • Don’t make excuses or blame others because you don’t like your “Christian music” options – If you can’t find stuff you like, you’re just being lazy, or simply looking for reasons to complain

  • When you find good stuff, SUPPORT IT AND SHARE IT – The people who make what you like, can’t keep making that stuff if you don’t support them, and there might be others who would be encouraged by what you listen to

  • Don’t feel condemned because you can’t get into the “worship” MUSIC GENRE – The worship music GENRE, is not the same as Biblical worship

  • If you're measuring the maturity and value of someone's Christian walk by the music they listen to, or the response you observe from people during "worship" time at church... STOP IT! That is not Biblical, and it causes unnecessary divisions.

If you know of some of the good stuff that's different, I'd love to hear about it, and I'm sure others would also. Feel free to comment and let us know where you might have found some gems that are good for Christian ears!

So, there you have it. If you share my beef with Worship Music for the same reasons, we now have productive ways to go about it. There are problems with music in church, but we don't have to be a part of the problem. We can be a part of the solution.

#pastorbside #christianity #christianmusic #christianblog #secularvschristian #worshipmusic #worshipmusicartists #praisemusic #gospelmusic

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